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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Books Vanishing from Kindles

David Pogue of the New York Times reports:
This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid -- for thought they owned.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people's Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.

This is ugly for all kinds of reasons. Amazon says that this sort of thing is "rare," but that it can happen at all is unsettling; we've been taught to believe that e-books are, you know, just like books, only better. Already, we've learned that they're not really like books, in that once we're finished reading them, we can't resell or even donate them. But now we learn that all sales may not even be final.

As one of my readers noted, it's like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we've been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table.

You want to know the best part? The juicy, plump, dripping irony?

The author who was the victim of this Big Brotherish plot was none other than George Orwell. And the books were "1984" and "Animal Farm."

Scary.


Comments

Ugly indeed. At least, in this case, the readers received a refund. But it still leaves a bad taste behind.

What is depressing from this incident, is that it is another example where the copyright holders believe that they have unlimited rights and the consumer has NO rights. Therefore, with impunity, the copyright holder is "entitled" to do anything, at any time, and for whatever reason. I guess this is another case of Orwell's "We are all equal, but some are more equal that others."

Fortunately, George Orwell is out of copyright in Australia and freely available on the web at http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/o/orwell/george/ .

The two lessons here: buy an e-book that does not maintain rights to steal your content, never pay for content you don't end up controlling.

Electrons are ephemeral...books can last forever.

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